Four leaders of the nations headed towards Tokyo to attain the QUAD summit.
- In the year 1990, after the disintegration of former Soviet Union, the power dynamics had shifted from bi-polar to unipolar, till the time China a new emerging economic gaining a strategic and economic significance.
- China with its growing influence started imposing territorial claim over South China Sea, and started establishing military base in various island nations in the Indo-Pacific nation.
- Four nations with shared values on democracy, peace and inclusiveness, India, Japan, Australia and USA initiated a group termed as QUAD to maintain stability and secure international rule-based order in the region.
- The objective of QUAD is to have a safe, secure, free and open Indo-Pacific region which should be inclusive in nature.
- In order meet the objectives QUAD, has focused on economic, cultural and other domains to collaborate with the regional nations.
- The idea for the QUAD Group is attributed to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who mooted it in 2007.
- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) or QUAD Group is an informal strategic forum comprising India, Japan, Australia and the United States of America.
- In 2008, Australia pulled out from the grouping due to Chinese influence.
- In December 2012, Shinzo Abe once again came up with a similar concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond”. This concept involved Australia, India, Japan and the US. The objective was maritime security from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
- In 2017, Australia showed an active participation in QUAD and collaboration with member nations and reshaped the QUAD as QUAD 2.0.
- Objectives of QUAD:
- With no mention of China in official documents of the QUAD, one of the major subconscious objectives is to reduce Chinese assertiveness over the Indo-Pacific region.
- It seeks to contain a ‘rising China’ and work against its predatory trade and economic policies.
Key highlights of the Summit
- Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness.
- Sharing of space based civil Earth observation data; QUAD Satellite Data Portal
- Condemnation of terror groups and terrorist activities.
- QUAD Debt Management Resource Portal
- Capacity building under QUAD Cyber security Partnership; first ever QUAD Cyber Security Day
- Fellowship in STEM varsities in US for 25 students from each QUAD country.
Other discussed issues
- India-Japan bilateral talks:
- Both the nations reviewed the progress of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project.
- Both have welcomed the signing of exchange of notes of the 3rd tranche of loan for project.
- Japan has agreed for quarantine free entry for Indians with Covishield and Covaxine certificates, recognizing the Indian vaccination program.
- India-America Bilateral talks:
- Two sides have announced a major partnership to boost cooperation in critical and emerging technologies between their leading security agencies.
- White has invited India to join Combined Military Forces- Bahrain as an associate member.
- India-Australia talks:
- Comprehensive strategic Partnership, including trade and investments, defense manufacturing, renewable energy and green hydrogen, education and agricultural research etc.
Divergence and challenges
- Ukraine crises: All the members of the QUAD have criticized the invasion action of Russia except India. Maintaining neutrality in the foreign policy India has demanded for territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation and peace and prosperity in the region, without criticizing Russia at international stage.
- China’s Territorial Claims:China’s territorial claims over South China Sea, posing a potential challenge to the objective of the QUAD, for free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
- China’s Closeness to ASEAN: ASEAN grouping, the central part of the Indo-Pacific region, has a well-knit relationship with China, inducing Chinese strategic presence in the region.
- Economic Power of China: Chinese economy has a central role in the world supply chain routes, inducing the economic dependency on China.
- Violation of Peace and Stability, in the Middle East region hinders the core principle of the QUAD, i.e., to maintain peace and respect territorial integrity and sovereignty.
- Strategic opportunity:
- Joint military exercises: Under Malabar Exercise, USA, Japan, Australia and India are performing Joint Naval exercises to have safe and secure Indo-Pacific.
- Defense and security Domain: Mutual Logistical Support Agreement has been signed between India and Australia.
- Economic Front: Comprehensive trade partnership between Australia and India, along with enhanced economic cooperation with ASEAN grouping and other island nations of the region.
- Indo-Pacific Economic Framework: Initiated by USA, support by 12 other members including India, contributing 40% of the World GDP.
- Vaccine Diplomacy: Most of the nations in the region are categorized under developing status, vaccine availability and vaccine equity became major challenge for the nations, in which QUAD can improve the availability of proper health care and vaccine among the nations.
- Soft Diplomacy: Increasing people-to-people contact and cultural collaboration with the nations in the region will provide a base to expand the influence and presence of QUAD.
At the summit, Indian Prime Minister described the Quad as a “force for the good”, and lauded the “the confidence and determination” of the group to ensure an “inclusive” Indo-Pacific region. For India, the Quad country dealing with an active land border issues with China, hence the challenges and choices are complex for India.